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Matthew Theunissen apologises in open letter for racist post

Earlier this week Theunissen used the k-word to refer to the government in a Facebook post.

Matthew Theunissen. Picture: LinkedIn.

JOHANNESBURG - Matthew Theunissen, the Noordhoek man whose name trended in South Africa this week for all the wrong reasons, has apologised in an open letter for his racist Facebook post in which he referred to the government using the k-word.

His father's lawyer sent a letter to IOL in which Theunissen expressed his regret for what he had stated on Facebook.

Read the full text of the letter below:

TO: THE HONOURABLE MINISTER FIKILE MBALULA

THE PEOPLE OF SOUTH AFRICA

THE GOVERNMENT OF SOUTH AFRICA

THE SOUTH AFRICAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

OPEN LETTER UNCONDITIONAL APOLOGY

On 2 May 2016, I made a statement on my Facebook profile, which statement has impacted my life and more importantly, caused great pain and insult to many people. I hereby tender my unconditional apology for my behaviour, choice of language, racist remarks and manner in which I communicated my feelings at the time.

To Minister Fikile Mbalula:

Minister, you have made countless efforts and strides in the Department of Sports and Recreation to unify South Africa and to uphold constitutional values that seek to make South Africa the great nation that it is.

I have no doubt that my statement was offensive and would, despite your position, have caused you personal pain. There is no excuse for me using the language that I did and I can only avail myself to you, your mercy and direction as to how I can begin to make right the damage I caused you.

To the people of South Africa:

We have endured so much as a country and nation that has a rich history of struggles and strife as well as accompanying victories and miracles. South Africa has prospered much from the sacrifice of many who have sought to bring to reality the dream that once existed of a free and equal country, and which dream still holds the attention of millions today. My words did nothing to help nurture that dream that South Africans hold dear. In a few single words I undoubtedly opened up wounds, created new pain and fed the flames of frustration and hate. I am deeply sorry for being an obstacle to unity and ask that you forgive me.

To the Government of South Africa:

Regardless of political position or belief, my conduct is inexcusable and my statements about you are unfounded. I have no idea what it takes to run a country let alone take people from an apartheid regime to freedom. My thoughts are attributed to a deep lack of understanding and my statement was not only distasteful, but blatantly disrespectful. I sincerely apologize for that.

To my family and friends:

I have been surrounded by goodness and love my entire life, which is what makes my behaviour a more difficult reality for you to have endured recently.

Whatever my past accomplishments may have been, my recent social media statement, which has stormed the minds and hearts of South Africans, has clearly unravelled the impact that your positive influence has made in my life.

I have disappointed you and caused hurt that will take a long time to heal. I am deeply sorry and ask that you forgive me.

I made the statement at the time out of anger and without restraint. While I had made attempts to remove the post once I had calmed down, the damage had clearly been done.

In spite of my academic education there are clearly lessons to be learnt in life that cannot be derived from a textbook. I consider this to be one of the most valuable lessons to have learnt and while having to endure the hate and anger from so many people, can only pray that there will be an opportunity afforded to me one day to make a positive impact and to prove to many that I am not a hateful or inherently 'evil' person.

I do not consider myself to be a racist, but my words would recently dictate otherwise. This experience has caused me to take a deep look within me and to realise that in spite of the damage caused by me, I can still choose to be an influence for the good of South Africa.

I have furthermore learnt the important lesson that people will be quick to judge me by my "actions" when I've expected them to judge me by my "intentions". The two ideas are not necessarily exclusive and my actions, having learnt the hard way, need to follow my intentions.

In conclusion, my words used and the statement made by me on Facebook on 2 May 2016 is, without excuse, simply unacceptable. I cannot overemphasise the regret that I have for having done so and realise that there will be, at least in the near future, no possible way for my words used in this apology to convince you of my sincerity. I will however strive to make every effort to show you that this apology is not without substance and I will take every opportunity to make amends.

Matthew Theunissen

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